Casey Beck

My pottery is an analysis of the formal properties of the sun’s interactions with the world that we live in which informs the time imbued in each vessel that is further expanded upon by the process of use. Daily, we interact with the light that the sun presents, while it interacts with both person made and natural objects. The sun captures, abstracts, and highlights these objects through transient shadows which tend to go unnoticed yet are a shared experience by all. These shadows often present an interesting interpretation of the landscape in which they portray. Repetition is created as the light creates shadows, while also being reflected from windows and metallic objects, creating an alternative direction of light, overlapping, and skewing the directionality of the shadows. Movement is represented over periods of time spent with shadows as they dance upon surfaces, disappearing as quickly as they appear, while the sun strides through the sky. These shadows pair the objects they portray down to only the essence of their pattern and silhouette but can also obscure them through dramatically lit angles into a non-object. The pottery forms that I create and the way that I orient them in the kiln allows me to reproduce these qualities produced by the shadows. I find a direct visual correlation between how the sun interacts with the world and how the atmosphere and flame within the kiln interacts with the landscape of pottery placed inside. By utilizing specific materials and means of making, organizing the pots in the kiln particularly, and negotiation the heating and cooling of the kiln, I capture a sense of ephemerality that is akin to that of the sun’s shadows. As the pots are fired, this is done through the expression of the ceramic materials. The outcome is a dialogue of the way in which the flame moved through the kiln’s landscape, highlighting each moment of the making and firing process. It is as if every moment is captured as one, layered upon one another which can then be revealed through use. As these pots are used in daily transient cycles, much like those of the sun, they are imbued with these moments of use. These moments are recognized through an awareness of the object and the time and timelessness that the object contains physically and intangibly. Awareness is mandatory for these vessels as they slightly challenge the preconceptions of the pottery from in which each pot represents, quietly asking for the pot to be held, used and lived in a specific way.

Beck is a second year MFA candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is studying ceramics. He makes pottery utilizing atmospheric firing techniques that encourage a dialogue between maker, material and user, while referencing everyday shadows. After completion of his BFA in ceramics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2019, Beck spent two years living and working in Minnesota where he worked as a studio potter, worked in the Sales Gallery at Northern Clay Center (NCC) and taught classes. Beck has been a resident artist at the Cub Creek Foundation in rural Virginia and was awarded the 2020 Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant through NCC.

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